Don’t be pennywise and dollar foolish, business owners. Do you see the forest through the trees? Do you see the three-dimensional image emerging from the ostensible abstract graphic? The dynamic has always existed; yet, I believe brands of ago understood the value in providing “value.” It was expected (as should be). Then, an emergence of business began…
In The Beginning
I get a lot of my work ethic from older generations. My grandfather, though working a white-collar job, had to work very hard. All his peers did. It was expected. Why else would American people, coming out of the Great Depression, give their hard-earned money away? They wouldn’t. Quality and value was respected and expected.
Things Got Better (But for Whom?)
Things turned around for the economy; free enterprise emerged in a number of verticals. Innovation was up as well as the spending of Americans. The hunger of businesses also skyrocketed. More businesses existed in a number of verticals. The principle of ‘competition’ threatened revenue streams and existences of businesses.
What do you do when you can’t compete with a better competitor? Let’s not get into ethics; but, let’s face it. There are those who will do ‘anything’ to make a buck and sustain their ‘business.’
It took some years for us get comfy with the Web; but, today its popularity is undeniable. The line to the Web looked like the one inspired by Sylvester McMonkey McBean in Seuss Sneetches tale. Many licked their chops, salivating at the chance to make ‘mo money’ online.
This was great for consumers too (in part); it was convenient and made for a more robust shopping experience. However, the greed previously spawned before the dawn of the Web was fed by the new wave.
“All these dollar signs (I mean consumers) are on the Web now. How can I get them to buy my stuff? Oh wait, this search engine optimization thingy can get me ranked first for my services and products?! DAAAAAAAAAMN - bingo!”
Many in the industry rag on ethically-questionable SEOs. They are undoubtedly a problem; but, they’re really just hired guns, inspired by their own greed; but, shoddy SEO revenue is fueled by the greed of questionable brands who want to make money (and, yeah, maybe create some value; but, “If we can get the money without worrying about the value, that’s better, right?”)
So, business owners, at present, you have access to a range of SEOs who run the ethics gamut as you yourselves fall somewhere in the spectrum between scumbag and value creator.
Is it frustrating for the business owners who want to provide value? I’m very sure it is. Is it frustrating for upstanding SEOs who want to help in aligning value with target markets? I guarantee it.
We are in an age of transparency. I’m not trying to coin a new term; I know how some take to such notions; but, I digress. With each passing day, I celebrate the present evolution of online marketing; I’m happy for ethical SEOs and for consumers; because, there’s increasingly less room for the unethical to hide. The unethical SEOs are blaringly obvious to those in the industry; but, they’re not a threat to us in the industry; they just disrespect and smear our industry. They are not so readily seen by clients; yet, some clients are just as scummy as those rogue SEOs.
I have bad news for questionable practices and people. You’re going to fail…eventually. Like the time after the Great Depression, we are in the wake of the Great Recession. People care about how they spend their money, insisting on getting value (as it should be).
Those who need to hide will; yet, those who don’t won’t. Why the heck would they? They can be as transparent, footloose, and fancy-free as they want. They CAN DO what all their online marketing and SEO insinuates… Others can’t yet use SEO and online marketing as a means to a scumbag end.
So the cycle will play over. Those who can’t compete will try; but, it’s not going to be so easy anymore. I’m sorry for you (for a number of reasons).
Pro quo means “this for that” in Latin. It’s not rocket surgery (it was intended for a laugh.) People want something in exchange for their hard-earned money, something of value. You’re not deserved of their money because you have a business. You earn their money through respecting your brand, its operations, its employees, and yourself as a business owner. Otherwise, you’re just not getting it (people’s business too –that was a pun) and neither will your brand…in due time. Savvy yet? Don’t worry; I have more ink in my pen.
Consumers, peers, and service providers are a lot smarter than some questionable parties lead themselves to believe. I know companies are in business to make money; but, why would you think you’re entitled to sidestep the genuine business road? Make it your business (yeah, it’s a pun again) to create for the consumer. There is an inescapable dynamic involving creating value and creating a successful business. It takes hard work and dedication. There’s no alternative. Live it or leave business aspirations behind. People understood the dynamic generations ago? Are we degenerating? Some are. Others are finishing the ideals our forefathers/mothers started.
In yesterday’s post, I opened the discussion on reframing and described what it is and the background of why it is important. Today, let’s look at the tactics used and how it is relevant both at home and internationally.
In communication with your audiences, the larger conversation that captures the large-scale dialogue between a company and its audiences can be reframed through traditional tactics such as press conferences, events, launches, media placements, interviews, press releases, and statements. These forms of external communication are relevant to some organizations more than others, largely based on the size of the company, budget, and particular goals. If a company is a larger brand with a national audience, then they may be more inclined to seek the greater exposure through high-profile events, large media spots, and prime advertisements whereas smaller companies may opt for press releases, interviews, and small-scale media placements.
Now, regardless of company size, the smaller conversation is reframed one interaction at a time. This process has been revolutionized by social media. Businesses and the SEO companies that represent them can engage with audience members online directly through social media. They can do this to repair reputation and extend the brand (or to rebrand in some cases), engaging with people to present their image in a constructive manner. This is a long-term strategy and investment, but when done correctly, it can yield significant results.
The SEO marketers can take the opportunity to address concerns brought forth by customers and audience members individually through all types of posting, reposting, commenting, and other actions available on social platforms. Purposefully engaging people with compelling, quality content reframes the conversation to the core message in an equitable, non-manipulative way. This requires time, effort and ultimately staff to do this well though, resources that are often in short order – this is where SEO companies can assist in the campaigns.
Domestic and International Implications
This process is important domestically, as very often companies have a reputation that is instilled in the minds and experience of their customers – for better or worse. This happens in the environment where they have been operating the longest, typically on domestic soil. However, it also applies for businesses trying to stay on point in new international markets. As a company expands they make it a priority to build brand awareness, positive exposure, and customer loyalty in a place where they likely have little to none of these upon arrival.
Following this scenario, the brand itself may not have a reputation to fall back on as customers are working out their feelings towards the company. As a result, such companies are especially vulnerable to any negativity that arises as with such a blank canvas the, the “conversation” can quickly become an unfavorable one if a mistake is made or a negative development occurs. As such, companies need to be proactive in correcting any issues, transparent in their communications, and firm in addressing the issues but then reframing the conversation towards their core message.
As an example of reframing, I discuss in a piece on IBTimes.com how Glodman Sachs can use this practice along with consistency/core messaging and purposeful engagement to gain a better social presence with the brand management team they are expanding. For more information about reframing and its relevance for businesses domestically and how it relates to operating in international markets, reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and @ryanwbudd.
Is timing ‘everything’? I’ve heard such suggestions before, feeling intimidated by the notion of minding yet another factor. Should I go to the grocery store because I’m hungry; and, because it’s dinnertime? Should I wait until the crowd subsides? Should I turn the Flyers game off now while they’re still ahead as not to get disappointed later? Should I approach the girl at the coffeehouse while she’s busy though waiting for the ‘perfect’ moment (which in my mind my never come) could be an error in logic?
Marketers must mind time, especially when it comes to content sharing. Not only do businesspeople have to consider where to share; they must ponder when the best time is to strike the social network chords. Timing definitely warrants premeditation; just don’t think into paralysis like a grown man in a coffee shop.
Consider the following suggestions related timing in marketing:
The “Work” “Day”
I’ll assume most brands share during the traditional workweek, within traditional ‘working’ hours. This seems immediately apropos; but, think about your target market, you know, the people you want reading your stuff.
For instance, WebiMax has a great writer, Ryan Buddenhagen, who writes on ISEO. Ryan has ushered some international looks to the blog. When are those readers ‘working,’ and roving social platforms? They’re on a different time zone. Would it be better for us to think about the best times to engage those international readers, perhaps ‘scheduling’ some ISEO tweets? It could be a benefit.
What about those who don’t use the ‘workday’ to read and engage in social media? I read and write all day, yet the process is conducive to my position and industry. That’s not the case with a lot of professionals. For instance, are you sharing your parenting tips in the middle of the day when parents may be at work, not reading parenting materials? Would such a brand be better off sharing content at night, when a larger pool of its market may be looking for it? It could be a benefit.
Do you want to work this weekend? Ha ha, you don’t have to answer. A lot of brands leverage third-party marketing services. That’s completely understood. Depending on the present state and momentum of a brand, in-house marketing resources just may not be an immediate reality. However, what if the brand offers services and products outside of the B2B sector? Many consumer products/services are warranted during ‘off’ hours, such as on the weekend, you know, when a large portion of target markets ‘have time’ to think about needed goods and services.
Is your brand making marketing motions on the weekend? I know. “But it’s the weekend!” Yes, but it’s not necessarily the weekend regarding your target market’s desires. Actually, the contrary is true in this instance. Why use social media when it’s not being leveraged during one of the ‘hottest’ moments, when consumers’ attentions are piqued?
Use Amigos Wisely
I loved the 80s; I apologize for the references; but, I can’t help it. Remember the comedy, The Three Amigos? It’s a gem of a cinematic piece. Three actors are asked to come to a small, Mexican town to defeat the wicked “El Guapo.” The actors are under the impression they were asked to come to perform, only to realize the wicked nature of El Guapo and clan is quite real. (Get to the point, Anthony.)
In the end, the Amigos defeated the rogue group by dressing villagers like the Amigos, by visually coming at the gang ‘from all sides.’ I like that kind of tactic when it comes to timing and sharing.
I see this dynamic a lot: A writer just gets done a post and boom, hits the publish button. The published post is noticed by internal people who immediately share it. Awesome, the post is in the social pipelines…for that hour or so, then dramatically drops in shares (unless the post makes it to some sort of sharing site: inbound, reddit, and the like).
Would it be more effective to elongate the publishing? Could the post be shared some when first published, then shared again later in the day or week? I’m not discussing content curation per se; I’m talking about the initial sharing of a piece of content. Some brands share as if they are trying to lighten the load of the brand’s ship, as if saying, “All right, we’ve got this one done.; let’s dump it into the social media sea and hope something happens from it.”
This has more to do with ‘who’ more than ‘when,’ but I want to include this; I think it’s something to consider. Identifying personas is a useful marketing tool. It makes sense; people vary; so, consumer behaviors will as well. Are brand workers segmented, meaning is there a social, copy, database team, etc? If so, maybe it’s important to think about ‘who’ is tweeting what content. For instance, I often share content about branding. I’ve built a following that expects that now. It would make sense for me to share that content rather than someone on the database team, who may have followers interested in different material.
This post will be about branding. Branding is good for online marketing. It expresses passion…which is very unlike my first few lines here. Did you find yourself doing ‘the robot’ as you were reading them? I do that sometimes on and off the dance floor. The latter occurs when reading generic posts. Who’s the author? Why can’t I extract a single, personable sentiment from these things? It’s a small wonder (80′s television reference) anyone but robots are reading these things.
I read an awesomely refreshing post this morning on ‘why I don’t read your blog.’ It’s real and insightful. One of the best points I gathered was not being a candidate for the crowned Mr. Roboto of blogging. I’m not the only writer who agrees:
@content_muse It is definitely important to let your personality shine through! Robotic blogging makes me want to cry tears of boredom.
However, I’m not writing this post on blogging. It’s about inserting the essence of communication (character) into your branding. Why? Same reason as above, businesspeople, partners, and all types of consumers enjoy personality. It helps us makes better decisions, better aligning us with likeable and like-minded brands.
Consider the following:
Having Personality is Not Unprofessional
I like hovering outside of the ‘uber professional’ box; maybe it’s a bit too stuffy in there for my personality. I have one. I’m okay with that; and, I believe other professionals are as well. Having fun with your job, smiling, and expressing personality does not make you unprofessional; it makes you an individual. If you need to keep your brand ‘in line,’ ‘hiding’ the personality of workers and collective beliefs, then something is off. What is your brand’s collective personality? If you can’t accurately identify that, then maybe your brand is a bit too stuffy. If bankers above the age of sixty-five is your market then proceed with minimalistic expression of personality (I guess). Otherwise, it’s okay to be your brand self.
Where’s Your Team?
It’s sad to come across a company site void of worker presence. Who’s onboard your company? I want to know. It just might influence my decision to engage your brand. If you’re not showing your main players, in these times of super social marketing, I just may grow suspicious, wondering, “Well, why not!?” Owners, are you sharing your workers and their work with the rest of us? Why not? You hired them; so, I assume you’re proud they’re working for you. Why hide them and their contributions? No really- I’m actually thinking that when I don’t see them.
Many online brands don’t have storefronts. Many brands don’t attend workshops and events. Many brands don’t have the chance of experiencing consumers three-dimensionally and vice versa. That’s a disadvantage for those with personality and passion. How do you compensate? While so much energy is devoted toward ‘ranking’ services/products so many brands pay no resources toward exposing browsers to their ‘brand.’ A brief about us page is not enough. When was that penned? Five years ago when the brand started? What’s happened since then? Update the about us page. Why not make it into a scrolling, blog-post-like page? Many products and services vary very little when it comes down to it. What’s your brand’s story? I really want to know; I have choices (like the rest of your consumers). Telling me more about the supplied source gives me more reasons to make a decision.
This is BS
Do you think this is BS? (If you’re thinking this is great business strategy, I agree; if you’re thinking of other terms, I hope you reconsider; I’m really trying to fertilize your success.) I predict some owners may read this, giving my words the ‘pfft-into-an-eye-roll’ sentiment. I understand; ‘Anthony’s just ranting about his favorite topic, branding; he’s passionate about wanting me to be passionate; but, I’ll just sit back and keep doing what I’m doing’…the bare minimum of branding. Here’s the thing. I notice. Others notice too. Just like the author of the ‘why I don’t read your blog’ post above is turned off by personality-less posts, people are turned off by personality-less brands, especially in verticals where face-to-face meetings are few to none. You may disagree with me know; but, entertain me; put forth some extra branding effort. I think you’ll thank me later.
“Godfather, be my friend,” a man pleads as he kisses Don Vito’s hand. The former was really asking of a favor. The Godfather knew. It’s VERY LIKELY those on your ‘let’s be pals’ radar know your immediate intentions too. It’s okay; be aware of their awareness and proceed…naturally.
I’ve been pretty successful in making friends throughout my life. I’m actually pretty cool; but, that’s for me to know and others to notice. In social life, I can be a bit lax, allowing things to happen at a gradual pace. I’m a tough sell. I’m not going to ‘be down’ with just anyone. In my professional life, things are a bit different, warranting a mixture of friendly and professional sentiments; but, I’m very similar to other professionals in that regard too. I’m not going to be ‘cool’ with just anyone. If I did want to begin a relationship, I would go about it in the following manner.
The Elephant in the Room
Have you ever engaged someone in conversation, knowing there is an ulterior motive for the union, yet it goes ‘unpublished’ in conversation. It makes for an awkward guessing game of what the other person is thinking. Be honest whenever approaching or PR pitching another professional. Would you like their help? Would you like them to read your blog? Would you like to be considered as a source in an article? All of these ‘selfish’ desires are acceptable; however, don’t ‘beat around the bush.’ Just be direct. Being direct doesn’t guarantee a disarming welcome; but, it does let the other person know you’re a straight shooter, honest, and not wasting their time.
Some time ago, I wanted to guest post on Mike King’s blog. I hit him up in an email; and, though may have been a bit complimentary in the opening, I was succinct in my intentions. I wanted a social media post on ipullrank’s blog; however, it was important to offer something to Mike’s readers too. Why else would he accept if I wasn’t creating some sort of value? Mike posted on the wrong and right way to ask for a guest post.
My mom thinks I’m special; that goes along with the job. I know. Do others? Perhaps, but it’s because I earned their respect. I did; I inspired; I worked; I expressed; I did a number of things to openly demonstrate (out in the practical, wide-open world) I can offer some sort of value. Think of other professionals as active musicians. By adding your presence, does their professional world become more harmonious? If not, they’re likely to want you to ‘sit this number out.’ Maybe you can try-out again when you have something of value to offer.
Value is subjective; but, the need to offer ‘something’ is an objective reality. What can you offer?
- Humor (maybe you make them laugh with your take on the industry)
- Research (maybe you’ve crunched a lot of data, elucidating a new trend or previously unseen ‘truth’)
- Exposure (maybe you have a high number of followers and can introduce a personality to a new pool of subscribers and vice versa)
- Guidance (perhaps you have experience in a particular area and can offer insight)
Think about what you can add. It’s a delicate dance of give and take. If you’re not offering anything valuable, there’s no reason for professionals to jump at the chance to ‘make friends.’ Many will question why you thought a union with them was apropos in the first place. Have you researched?
I recently read a great explanation of why doing your homework in a respective vertical is important. You see, it’s not about ‘just getting exposure.’ It’s about finding the right fit; it’s about making the right kind of relationships. I’m a writer. Is making a contact with NASA the right fit though NASA is an incredibly respected entity? Unless NASA wants me to help them with content marketing, the relationship is ill fitting. I’d be better off finding better niches, befitting to my networking wishes.
Check out Chris Dyson’s post on chasing footprints for linkbuilding. Knowing the right paths to venture is crucial. Next, don’t forget to familiarize yourself with the personality of interest. That’s how you would normally go about making relations and conversation, right? Consider the alternative:
If you are going to pitch me, at least check out my freakin’ site first. Otherwise, I just hit the “delete” button. Sheesh!
You’ve heard of link building, the reason why many people approach others for immediate connections. Awesome, you’ve made a connection and got a valuable link. The link is good in and out itself; but, I liken the process as getting the opportunity to shake the Dali Lama’s hand but not engaging him in conversation.
The reason it’s so important to research relations above, is because like online marketing, relations take time to build momentum and strength. What’s better, getting one guest post link or cultivating a relationship, resulting in future guest spots, insight and guidance, introduction to other ‘doors’ of opportunity and personalities, etc? Lightning storms are pretty and exciting; but, the excitement is short-lived. I’d rather invest in my time in building lasting weather patterns.
Pro tip: PR (I think of it as peer relations) is not for everyone. Are you stuck in a connection rut? Do you wonder why you and yours are shunned by others? Something is off; you’re doing something wrong.
Do you see relationships merely as a means to an end? If so, PR is not for you. You don’t ‘get it.’ No matter how much work you put in, you’re likely missing an integral piece of the puzzle. PR is a practice for the genuine and forthright. You can roll your eyes all you want at these sentiments. Go ahead and try to prove me wrong. The following video is for those interested in building real relations with peers. All others need not apply.
Which camp does your approach fall under? I can tell (I’m just nice about openly id-ing the former group.) Don’t be foolish. Others, who are PR savvy, can ‘see’ your approach too.
I love reading books. It’s kind of a prerequisite for teaching English I guess (something I’ve done). Those who spend time behind bindings (or those delving in digitally) may notice introductions to many classics. The introductions are often written by fellow authors and people of words. Why do publishers approach others for introductions? It’s because of the knowledge of the introductions’ authors; in short, ‘they know their stuff’ when it comes to the genre, author, and scope of the literary landscape.
Do you know your stuff when it comes to your vertical? I want you to prove it through social media.
I love writing. Not every soul does. What’s your medium of choice? If you know your stuff, then you have something to add to the ongoing industry conversation. Are you more of a talker? So be it. Start a video blog expressing your thoughts. I think vloggers have some advantages over bloggers. ‘Seeing’ people is more personable. Additionally, viewers can better assess a vlogger’s passion and personality because more social cues are available via video format.
I saw this video on entrepreneur encouragement last week. Is it done off the cuff? Yes. Was it unplanned? Perhaps. Does it make an impact? That’s a definitive, “Yes!”
I’ve noticed a number of parties sharing their slides as well as those of others. Slides are condensed forms of live presentations. Of course, slides can’t duplicate the presence of the speaker; but, you can gain a lot of information from them. Have you done a presentation in-house or externally? Have you shared the knowledge with others? Why not assemble your slides and share them? Sometimes “a picture is worth a thousand words.” I’ve seen well-done slides accompanied by very little text, without taking away from the powerful message of the overall presentation.
Marty Weintraub recently did a presentation and offers his slides on his Facebook page (You have to ‘like’ to download – pretty savvy, huh?)
Content curation is a well discussed trend and marketing motion. Have you thought about housing resources? I see many brand sites hosting a resource section; but, it’s usually reserved for internal content rather than industry-wide material. Why not be a librarian in your industry? Be known as a personality or brand, collecting the exceptional resources within your respective space. It sends a message; it helps brand personalities and companies as ‘keepers’ of valuable content.
I can’t tell you how many times per day, I read messages related to ‘creating great content.’ (Sigh) ‘Great’ is subjective and contingent on many factors. Additionally, the thought of doing it consecutively is a bit intimidating. Some days you feel like a contributor and others…like a keeper of content. Either way, roving for and housing great content offers value to your visitors.
There’s an online marketing cohort of mine, Wayne Barker. The guy is very meticulous and diligent in keeping his eyes on the online marketing space. I do the same; and, he’s made a good impression on me. He keeps a Google Plus library of industry posts. He’s branding himself as a librarian.
If you’re doing a good job using social media, you’re not only sharing your material, but maintaining and sharing the content of others as well. Not only does it create value for the industry and your followers; the process speaks in and of itself. It says, “Hey, (respective vertical) followers, I know my stuff. I know good content when I see it. Know and remember that about me.” Don’t be fooled; we’re watching you for better or worse.